Word of the Day Parve

In Hebrew, the word not only denotes a dietary neutral, as in 'neither milk nor meat,' but also an anemic personality.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

When the Yiddish word parve (meaning "neutral") is used to denote food that is neither meat nor dairy, such as plain pasta or fruits and vegetables, it means the food may be eaten with either category of food under the Jewish laws of kashrut, which mandate that meat and milk be eaten separately.

While English speakers pronounce the term either PAH-rev or PAHR-va, in Hebrew, as in Yiddish, it is pronounced PAHR-veh (but not pahr-VA, which is spelled the same way in Hebrew but means "fur"). More significantly, in Hebrew the term isn't limited to describing food.

Tzipi Livni, the centrist Hatnuah chairwoman who was recently tapped as justice minister, was the most popular minister during her last round in office, according to a 2008 poll conducted when Livni (then head of Kadima) was serving as foreign minister.

But the thing with centrists is that while in theory they can win the support of both leftists and rightists, in practice they also tend to earn the scorn of both. And sometimes that's expressed in food terms, as with a commenter who wrote in response to the poll that "Tzipi Livni doesn't convey anything – just parve/anemic."

In other words, Livni is neither ultra-nationalist nor post-Zionist. Some see that as moderation, while others view it, less flatteringly, as parve: neither here nor there, neither steak nor cheesecake.

Fish are also considered neither meat nor milk, for the purposes of kashrut, and are therefore 'parve.'Credit: AFP
Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni.Credit: Nir Kafri

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